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As the author demonstrates, the Beretta 93R is a capable counterambush/V.I.P. protection weapon.

While I’ve always found machine pistols especially interesting, I haven’t always found them particularly useful. I typically define a “machine pistol” as a handgun with the capability for select fire and for affixing a stock. Beretta’s Model 93R (“93” is for the gun’s 9mm caliber and for it being the 3rd model; the “R” stands for raffica, or “automatic” in Italian) is one of the more interesting and functional machine pistols I’ve encountered. The 93R shares some features with the Beretta 92—or M9—including the same short-recoil, locked-breech system, the open top slide and a mag well designed to take a double-column magazine. But unlike the Beretta 92, the 93R is a single-action pistol.

Designed in the 1970s, the 93R was produced from 1979 to 1993—only 2,000 were produced. The gun was reportedly developed for Italy’s two counterterrorist units: the NOCS and GIS. If this is correct, then we can reasonably assume the 93R was intended for protective assignments, as both the NOCS and GIS used the Beretta Model 12 submachine gun as their primary pistol-caliber automatic weapon before later acquiring HK MP5s. I have only once seen the 93R in use, and it was by a few Polizia di Stato officers at Leonardo Da Vinci Airport. Since the NOCS is part of the Polizia di Stato, it is possible the 93Rs were deployed due to a heightened threat level, which would have made sense given the reason I was traveling through the airport. Alternatively, the airport police may have been issued 93Rs.

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The select-fire Beretta 93R is shown here with its foregrip deployed. For effective use, the foregrip should be grasped with the support hand hooked through the triggerguard.

Nuts & Bolts

Based on my experience, the Beretta Model 93R is one of the better machine pistols around (though carrying its folding stock un-affixed is difficult). In full auto the 93R is limited to three-shot bursts, making it easier to control than a standard full-auto machine pistol. The 93R’s foregrip folds down, which is best grasped with the support hand while wrapping the support hand’s thumb around the triggerguard. This along with an affixed stock adds to the 93R’s controllability. (Without the stock, lean well into the gun while firing to maintain its handling.) The ported extended barrel found on earlier versions seems to keep muzzle rise down. The selector switch is well located for easy operation with the shooting thumb. When set for semi-auto operation, the 93R can be carried as a standard semi-auto pistol with select-fire mode available for breaking an ambush or for other scenarios. Another plus is the 93R’s 20-round magazine, which doesn’t protrude too far. For concealed carry you may also use the standard Beretta 92 15-round magazine. The published cyclic rate for the 93R is 1,100 rounds per minute (rpm). Obviously, this is a hypothetical figure since the three-shot burst mode limits the practical rate of fire. That’s a positive factor, though, as most shooters would probably not be able to keep the machine pistol on target for more than three rounds.

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Note the extended triggerguard, which allows the weak-hand thumb sufficient space to hook through for supplemental support with rapid fire.

In The Fight

Tactically, I would use the 93R in conjunction with Beretta 92 pistols for a security detail. Hence, the magazines would be interchangeable. But one problem with this is that standard Beretta 92 holsters won’t work for the 93R. I have seen custom-made holsters that actually incorporate a pouch for the 93R’s folded shoulder stock. If memory serves, there was such a holster some 20 years ago: a shoulder rig that took the 93R on one side and the folded stock plus one or two spare magazines on the other.

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The extended 20-round magazine drops below a hinge, next to the optional stock attachment.

It’s uncertain whether firing three-shot bursts from the 93R would be any more effective in stopping an assault than firing double-taps, triple-taps, hammers, zippers and so forth from a Beretta 92. I’ve generally felt that, if I’m to use a select-fire weapon, I’d prefer a rifle-caliber carbine or a true submachine gun. But if I were armed with a Beretta 93R I wouldn’t sulk: used properly, it is an effective weapon. It is a truly compact and powerful weapon that can lay down some serious fire for its size.

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